With so many big-name players changing teams since the NFL lockout ended, it’s amazing that there haven’t been problems over jersey numbers.
Just what is going on here? Maybe civility is making a comeback. Nah, that can’t possibly be it. Maybe everyone is trying to one-up Christian Lopez, who caught the home-run ball that was Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit and told the New York Yankees’ shortstop, “You worked so hard for this. I’m not going to take it away from you.”
In the NFL this year, there’s been nothing like the dispute between Clinton Portis and Ifeanyi Ohalete that was settled before going to trial in 2005. Portis ended up paying $18,000.
Cash has been involved in a couple of instances, but nothing like that amount. Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb, paid to keep their numbers with their new teams, making donations to charity. Punter Chris Kluwe handed over No. 5 to Donovan McNabb in Minnesota — at a price: five “non-consecutive” mentions of Kluwe’s band, Tripping Icarus; $5,000 to Kluwe’s charity and an ice cream cone. (Watch video here.) Same for Jay Feely when Kolb arrived in Arizona.
Kolb will wear # 4 and I will wear # 3. He will generously make a donation to the Feely Family Foundation.
In Philadelphia, it was the newcomer, Nnamdi Asomugha, who gave way. “I’m not going to come in here and start trying to take over,” Asomugha said of Joselio Hanson. “He’s been on this team. He’s been here. It was, point blank, ‘Does it mean something to you?’ He says, ‘Yeah, it does.’ That’s all I needed to hear. We didn’t have to go into money, let me buy it from you, let’s start going back and forth. No. Let’s move on....it’s the jersey number. Before all that you’re the football player.”
In New England, No. 85 might have been the trickiest, given Chad Ochocinco’s name. “This is his way of greeting me here. I didn’t have to pay anything,” Ochocinco said of Aaron Hernandez. “I shook his hand and said, ‘Thank you.’ ”
Ochocinco did offer Hernandez a token of his appreciation. “I drive a Toyota Prius so I was going to let him use my Prius on the weekends. That’s the best I can do right now. I have some leftover McDonald’s coupons.”